My date was pounding back the saki while we were out to sushi; and now she was sloppy drunk. We must’ve drank 5 bottles in an hour and hardly ate any food. Once you get a few drinks in me, I won’t shut-up; and she was willing to listen to me ramble. It was a good fit. She was cute, but how fast she was sucking up those little saki shots was concerning to me. I could hardly keep up with her. I’ve been on first dates where my wallet was used to get a buzz. It seemed like I was financially supporting an alcoholic for the next few hours. Afterwards we decided to shoot some pool at a dive bar downtown. We drove to the bar separately. I wasn’t sure if I should’ve been driving, but I drank some water, sloshed it around in my mouth, and hit the gas. When I got to the next bar, I grabbed some beers and racked up the balls. She could hardly hold onto her stick, and I don’t think it was because she was bad at billiards. That was when I got a text from her–the only one that matters–asking if I wanted to meet up at a bar later. Of course I did. So I told my date I had to go, but really, I went and sat in my car and waited for the blonde witch from my past to show up. Once I was sure my drunk date had left, I went back in and sat at the bar. It’s always a toss up with what kind of people you’ll sit by at a bar. Tonight I attempted to sit by a beautiful woman who had been looking at me, but when I went up and asked her if the seat to the right of her was taken, she said that it was; but she said it with regret and longing on the tip of her tongue. So I sat in the seat next to the empty one and pulled out my book. After a few lines from Marcus Aurelius an old man sat in the empty seat. He immediately turned to me and introduced himself. His name was Jon and the lady next to him was his daughter, Jess. Jon told me that he had just gotten news earlier today that he was cancer free. He said it was throat cancer and they had given him no chance to beat it. But here sat, a 67 year old man taking tequila shots at a dive bar in Bend, Oregon; still alive and celebrating his miracle. I bought the three of us a shot and we toasted to Jon’s miracle. The two of them were great company to have as I waited for the witch. Jess was hanging on every word that I said. I can have that effect on women sometimes, but unfortunately for Jess, my mind was preoccupied with a lady I hadn’t seen in two years–the lady that all this poetry has been for. Jess asked if I was here alone and I ended up telling her the entire story about myself and the wicked witch of the west. She responded by saying that she was now invested in how the rest of my night turned out. Then walked in the witch with her friend. She walked right by me–inches away–and didn’t see me waving at her. So I just sat there, continuing to celebrate Jon dodging the reaper. I bought us another round of shots. I must’ve been looking around the bar because Jess leaned in close and whispered, ‘Is she here??’
‘Yep.’ I responded. I took a big pull from my beer and said, ‘Wish me luck.’
‘Good luck!’ Jess shouted after me.
She was outside smoking a cigarette. Of course she was, I thought to myself. I introduced myself to her friend, Hailey, and this guy, Collin. Collin looked like he had a fight with cannabis earlier in the day, and cannabis had beat the shit out of him. His eyelids barely managed to separate from each other. They were just far enough apart to see a sliver of his eyeballs. The witch shook my hand and said,
‘Wolfgang. Nice to meet you.’
I chuckled and said it was nice to meet her too. That was the last time she looked or spoke to me for the next hour.
Collin told story after story, as she complained about the cold. This tall stoner could tell a story though, and I decided that he was a genuine guy; and that I liked him. He told a story about the first time he met his friend, Pretzel. I asked him if anyone knew his real name, and he said that no one knew, everyone just called him Pretzel. Someday, I might write Collin’s story about this guy Pretzel, who apparently made Collins' drug abuse look mild. The story was hilarious and raw; it was something that Bukowski or Denis Johnson would tell. Two Authors who ironically were recommended to me by the blonde with the cigarette and the big black boots sitting across from me, giving me the coldest of shoulders.
I was going to try to write down the story of Collin and Pretzel today but I am too hungover to try to capture the magic Collin had while talking about his friend. It was lucky for me that this Collin kid was the center of attention because it created a buffer from the witch and myself. I glanced at her from time to time but it seemed like she purposely wasn’t looking at me. I didn’t know what to do in this group setting with her people, so I just matched her behavior. It wasn’t quite the reunion I had hoped for but it was still something. She hadn’t changed in the two years, she was still the same white witch from the past that tickled me in some sort of in-explainable way, that even confuses me. She said a few things that made me laugh or smile, but I don’t even know if she saw my reactions to her. It was like we were playing a game of chicken, and we were both determined to make the other crack. I got anxious and started to peel the label off of my beer and blow into it to create that whistle noise. I wanted to ask her why she even invited me out if she wasn’t even going to look at me; but I didn’t, I sat there and played her game. I was blowing off my brother and a few friends who I was supposed to meet up with for a few drinks, to sit there and play eye-contact chicken.
Eventually, we decided to move to a bar that had more pool tables. The witch asked Collin if he would carry her to the bar. Collin eagerly agreed. She hopped on his back and we headed downtown. Collin managed to carry her for a few blocks, and then she dismounted off of her personal carriage. I hung back a few paces from them and tried to make small-talk with her friend Hailey. I told her about the time I was shitfaced, and just like the witch did tonight, one of my good friends asked for a piggyback ride. I told her that I could easily carry her, but when she jumped on my back, I fell fast first into the sidewalk. Both of us hit our heads, but we were both so drunk that we just rolled around on the ground, laughing hysterically. The problem with being a small fighter is that I think I am bigger than I actually am; and the more drinks I have, the grander the delusion gets.
When we got to the pool bar, my brother and friends were already there. I had no idea they were going to show up and I was beyond relieved to have more buffers from me and the witch. But the witch didn’t seem very amused that the playing-field was even now. She had her crew and now I had mine. I talked to my buddy Josh very loudly about not being picked to be one of his groomsmen. I heard the witch complain about how loud we were being, but at this point, I didn’t give a shit. She kept yawning and talking about how tired she was. She did not seem to want to be there. A pool table opened up and her and her friends started a game, while my friends and I waited for another table. When another table opened, and it was our turn to play, I didn’t know what to do. Do I stay and try to talk to the witch? Or do I ignore her and go play with my friends? I told my crew that I’d be down to play in a few. I sat by the witch and managed a few minutes of small-talk about authors, her dog, and her life. Five minutes went by and their game ended. She loudly exclaimed that she was too tired to be out any longer and was heading home. She gave me a quick hug and said goodbye.
She remains a mystery to me. I know her but only barely. I sent her a message after she left; something like, ‘It was good to see you tonight. Get home safe.’ That was it–that was our reunion. The big question that I needed to answer was, if I had romanticized her with all the stories and poetry about her. If I had built something out of nothing, by using her as my muse. I got my answer. I didn’t exaggerate or romanticize enough to be considered guilty in my own eyes. Her and I have something beneath the surface that’s similar to Jon’s miracle or Collins magic. The tension was both frustrating and exciting. Like I’ve said repeatedly in countless poems, she is the poison I chose to sip on. Nothing has changed in the two years.
After she left, I had a great time playing pool. We went to another bar where I ran into two more friends, one that I worked very closely with for four years. She knows me better than most, and she is always so excited to see me. I think it will always make me happy to see her. She was in town for a wedding, and the bride was a former coworker that I had had sex with a few times but grew to loathe. They were all at this bar, still celebrating the wedding reception. My friend bought me a few rounds of drinks and we danced for the rest of the night; well they danced, I sat back and talked with my buddy Josh, but we were dancing in spirit. My brother disappeared and I went home with my friends, Josh and Jocelyn. They wanted to sober up and hangout with my dog, Stanley. People love Stanley, but that’s because they don’t have to wipe up his piss every day. But it does make me happy to have a dog that everyone loves. Stanley melts into their laps, as we share drunken stories and thoughts. We were trying to wait up for my brother, but at 3am he still wasn't home. They left and I went to bed without brushing my teeth. The night would’ve been perfect if I had just brushed these teeth. If there’s two things I can’t stand, it's going to bed without brushing, and being in love with someone who doesn’t give a shit about me.
Oh, and I just remembered, the former coworker of mine, the one that knows me pretty well, she was the one that asked me for that face plant onto the sidewalk all those years ago. How funny…